At WHOOP, New Markets and Enhanced Technology Foreshadow an Exciting Future

Learn how the company’s growth team is leading the company’s current phase of transformation, relying on each other’s support and expertise to get there.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Jun. 27, 2024
At WHOOP, New Markets and Enhanced Technology Foreshadow an Exciting Future
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For a team considered “a startup within a startup,” WHOOP’s growth team is anything but small in its scale and influence.  

The company’s CEO, Will Ahmed, gave the team this moniker. And according to Business Analyst II Carolyn Chambers, this statement rings true when one considers the “clear and aggressive goals” that have driven the team over the past few months. 

When the wearable device company acquired question-and-answer platform AnyQuestion late last year, its product wasn’t the only thing that changed. As a result of this acquisition, Chambers said, former AnyQuestion CEO Ed Baker joined the company as chief growth officer, and the growth team as a whole expanded. Now, she and others on the growth team get to spearhead a pivotal phase in the company’s growth journey. 

VP of Growth Product Nate Giacalone shared that the company has spent the past few months launching its products in 20 additional markets, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and South Korea. And although the undertaking wasn’t easy, he and his peers managed to push through, owing to the unique nature of WHOOP’s growth team. 

“This team is different from other product teams that I have worked on and led,” Giacalone said. “We’re inherently more nimble, shorter-term-focused and cross-functional.”

While international expansion has been a top priority for WHOOP’s growth team, it’s only one of several exciting developments in the works. Senior Software Engineer Caleb Kussmaul and his fellow developers have been busy revamping the company’s mobile app, ensuring consumers have as seamless of an experience as possible. 

In his mind, the success of the growth team’s engineering endeavors doesn’t hinge entirely on its technical acumen; he believes its culture has as much to do with it. 

“For us, there’s always going to be periods of high pressure and the need for rapid iteration, and we’ll still meet those occasions with a great attitude and a sense of humor,” he said.

 

About Whoop

WHOOP’s wearable device allows individuals to track health and fitness metrics. Through the company’s mobile app, individuals can track daily performance scores, real-time stress levels, menstrual cycles, physical strain and more. 

 

Expansion Meets Optimization

Launching products in three or five additional countries is challenging enough — so what’s it like when 20 regions are involved?

According to Giacalone, one of the biggest hurdles his team faced during international expansion was ensuring everyone was organized around a unified strategy and game plan. That’s why he and his peers established a clear strategy early on in the process, ensuring there were well-defined goals and responsibilities for each team involved. 

“Through this process, I learned the importance of clear communication, meticulous planning, and the ability to adapt quickly to unforeseen issues,” Giacalone said. “This experience underscored the value of teamwork and the necessity of having a robust framework for coordinating large-scale initiatives.”

Efficiency is central to WHOOP’s current state of transformation, even when it comes to the online shopping experience. Chambers said her team recently decided to redesign the join flow on the company’s website, which is the portion of the site where consumers make purchases. The cross-functional effort, led by the product team, involved the reproduction of multiple site pages and flows to optimize the checkout process. 

“This undertaking required hours of QA work, and it was inspiring to see the entire growth team come together, from the most junior team members to the VPs, to ensure that every last step was working correctly,” Chambers said. 

While Chambers and her peers encountered a few bumps along the way, they found their flow by creating a new way of working in “tasks forces,” through which a stakeholder from each sub-team was held accountable for a specific element of the project. She noted that effective communication upheld this process, enabling them to move more quickly — and effectively — than ever before. 

According to Chambers, this undertaking didn’t simply result in an enhanced consumer experience offering faster load times and better design; it also helped pave the way for future progress. 

“More than anything, the team was most excited about how easily the new back-end infrastructure would allow us to set up tests going forward,” she said. “This project was just the beginning.” 

 

Two team members playing ping pong in office as others watch
WHOOP

 

A Smoother, More Streamlined Experience

As other members of the growth team focused on new markets and a better shopping experience, Kussmaul and his peers were trained on improving one critical element: customer memberships. 

Kussmaul shared that he and his teammates launched native extensions to enable customers to add months to their membership leveraging an in-app flow, which involves extension selection, checkout confirmation and a success screen after completion. 

“This was important because a smoother and more streamlined checkout experience here can go a long way in retaining members,” he said. 

Kussmaul decided to make the customer checkout flow a reusable component, which required a new pattern for navigation. With the server capable of specifying where it wants to go in the app and what parameters to provide, he explained, the screen doesn’t have to explicitly support each potential action a user might take. 

Of course, his team had to take certain measures to implement these changes properly. Kussmaul shared that they had to take the plan to the iOS guild meeting, since the project would affect code shared by all teams, ensure that it wouldn’t introduce security issues and get buy-in from stakeholders. 

“It was clear that this navigation addition was turning a fairly standard project into something significantly larger, so I had to convince my own manager and product manager that it was worth the investment,” he said. “Admittedly, it wasn’t clear exactly how long it would take to break even in terms of saved time, but I was convinced that this was a worthwhile direction to go in, and thankfully, the team trusted me on that.”

Kussmaul was right. He explained that the solution has brought significant value to the rest of the software organization, reflecting the engineering discipline that defines his team. 

“It means something to me that we implemented a solution to solve our own problems, and it resulted in assisting other features that make WHOOP the product that it is,” Kussmaul said. 

According to Kussmaul, the work doesn’t stop there. 

“We’re continuing to work on churn-reducing features, and we have an exciting roadmap ahead,” he shared. 

 

TRAITS OF TOP PERFORMERS

Giacalone believes there are various traits that define top performers on the growth team, including a strong focus on metrics. “We believe that PMs who can also function as analysts bring a significant advantage,” he said. “This analytical approach helps us make data-driven decisions and continuously optimize our strategies.” For Giacalone, it’s also important that team members can solve various problems with versatility and creativity, as this ensures that the team can remain dynamic, adaptable and effective in driving growth at WHOOP. 

 

What Keeps People Around For the Ride

Kussmaul has seen those popular Reddit posts and TikTok videos about “quiet quitting” and boring team-bonding activities — and he’s not a fan. 

“While I do sympathize with where they’re coming from in some cases, I still think they’re misguided,” he said. 

Kussmaul believes that a great work environment should encourage people to stay, which is exactly what he has encountered at WHOOP. 

“I really love our team’s culture, and that’s helped me stick around for the ride with the handful of people that have been with me since I started,” he said. “I’d like to think we represent a counterargument to what I see on social media.”

 

“I’d like to think we represent a counterargument to what I see on social media.”

 

This counterargument takes many tangible forms. For one, Chambers added, the team has embraced various traditions, including offering “kudos” to each other at the end of each quarterly all-hands meeting. 

“Due to our cross-functional work culture, people were thanking and recognizing members outside of their immediate team who they had worked with throughout their projects,” she said. “It was a great way to close out the quarter and recognize all of the hard work that had been done to get us to where we are today.”

Getting across the finish line isn’t always easy, especially when a company is going global. But for those seeking the thrill of a challenge, Kussmaul said, there’s no better place to be than WHOOP. 

While he has worked at various employers that touted shiny in-office perks and great coworkers, WHOOP has offered him something much more valuable: a product and mission to be passionate about. Kussmaul believes that, as the company continues to define this critical moment in its growth journey, those who come along for the ride can expect many things — but embracing the status quo isn’t one of them. 

“My advice here is to simply bring yourself to work as much as you reasonably can, and encourage others to do the same,” he said. 

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by WHOOP.

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